Catholics and Change: a New Pope with Prehistoric Rhetoric

Catholic Pope Francis 2013
Catholic Pope Francis March 2013
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Change often comes with new leaders, yet if you were expecting the catholic church to change, you’ll be greatly disappointed with Pope Francis, the new name for the former Argentinean clergyman, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.  Despite “change” being touted by the leader of the catholic church in recent weeks,  it appears that it is only cosmetic for the declining boy’s club.

Catholic Church Facelift

The facelift so far for the catholic church since Pope Benedict’s resignation, has resulted only in a new cover boy, Pope Francis. Entering the vatican, Pope Francis is heralding the word “change” on his lips like an angel blowing upon an old warn trumpet. His first tweet as Pontifex, asked his close followers to “pray for me.” This seems rather odd.  After all, isn’t the Pope the man with direct communication to god?  Why the hell then does he need people to pray for him?  Shouldn’t he be asking his congregation to pray for others. To me this ranks of pure self indulgence.


His tweet reads more like a short Oscar acceptance speech then the words of wise man, especially a new leader.

Catholic Pope Francis’ Past

Bestowing upon himself the name “Francis”, the name of Saint Francis of Assis (editorial update) of the catholic church whose legacy was for helping the poor, Jorge Mario Bergoglio might think that changing his name could help to hide and wipe away his past. Back in Argentina his own sister describes her brother as a “mischievous older brother”. But his personal mischievousness goes much deeper than a few family shenanigans.

Refusal to Obey the Vatican

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglia
Catholic Cardinal Jorge Bergoglia (2008) is accused in Argentina of be recalcitrant towards orders from the Vatican. Source: Wikipedia Commons

During his time as a clergyman in Argentina, Pope Francis came under heavy scrutiny for his lack of leadership on a number of crucial issues including the deep and ever present issue across the church of sexual abuse with minors. He did not respond to the Vatican’s request to put in place  policies for the process of sexual-abuse allegations in Argentina.  If you were hoping for major reform and for Pope Francis to come down hard on those in the catholic church who are guilty of such crimes, then you will be disappointed. In his opinion they should not be punished, instead we should forgive these men their tresspasses and send them to a shrink instead.

While I don’t disagree with psychiatric help for child sex abusers, especially those with a history of being sexually abused themselves, I think Pope Francis is overlooking a very important fact. He has forgotten that these clergy were put into places of power and trust by the Vatican, and the law of any country should not be countered by any law or desires of any church or religion.

The “Dirty War” of Argentina

A further criticism, much hidden from the public is Pope Francis’ lack of action in relation to what is known as the “Dirty War” in Argentina.  Taking a passive stance he did nothing to stop the kidnapping and torture of two priests in his own order, nor did he do anything to condemn or stop the theft of babies from political prisoners.  His supporters counter that the only wrongdoing he did was to act with caution against a regime where he might disappear himself if he attempted to take action. For a man of the cloth now given the highest position within the catholic church, I believe it shows a weakness within his character towards self preservation over the needs of others.

Estela de Carlotto who currently heads a civil-rights group in Argentina to help find those babies stolen during the dictatorship, accuses the hierarchy of the catholic church in Argentina as doing nothing to bring to light the truth of what happened, even though the regime has now fallen. Pope Francis’ history certainly does not support his current verbose call for change but rather it gives a veneer, a fake picture of a man who like many of his predecessors is spectacular with appearances. And though former religious writer “Michael D’Antonio” for the CNN remains optimistic with his “Opinion:  One month In Pope Francis is on the right track,” I think the Pope’s verbose uttering of change is purely smoke and mirrors.

Catholic Pope Francis’ Present

One month after the announcement of his new title of Pontifex, Pope Francis has shown little action towards change except to keep telling his flock that change is coming.

History tells us that Pope Francis is not a man of principle. Nor is he a man of action but he is a man who puts himself first before others. Word from the Vatican is that Pope Francis is taking his time to settle in, to pray and look for guidance in relation to the matters concerning the catholic church.

In the last few days, the Pontifex has created a new consultation group within the church to assist him with matters of change.  The group comprises of senior clergy picked from around the world including the Archbishop of Australia.  This move more than amuses me and brings me back to one of my first points. I’ve always been under the opinion (created by catholic friends and a former catholic priest that an Aunt of mine married), that the Pope is the only person in the catholic church with a direct connection to god. So why does he need to consult others?  Obviously there appears to be a fundamental problem with the papal phone to god.  Or could it really be because in all honesty, god is not speaking to him, because god does not really exist.

If there is to be any change in the coming months, it will be because of a more personal issue to do with celibacy within the Catholic church and his own flutterings felt for a female in his past,  recently mentioned during an interview last year, with Tracy Connor a staff writer with NBC News.

Pope Francis’ stance on gay marriage is clear. He describes same-sex marriage as a “manoeuvre by the devil”.  He has also criticised Argentina’s President for supporting the use of contraception.  This makes me shiver with distaste. It brings back memories of  “Mother Theresa”.  Recently reports of Mother Theresa’s personal interests with dark connections has come to light.  Her actions or lack thereof condemned many people who she “helped”, leading them down a path of poverty, oppression and disease.

There was hope that Pope Francis could make great deal of change to a United States organisation of nuns. Instead, living up to his history in the last few days, Pope Francis has supported a report drawn up by his predecessor Benedict XVI.  The report  accuses the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which represents around 45,000 nuns (approximately 80%) in the United States, of having “radical feminist” views for their support of Obama Care. Criticized for taking a “soft line” and not speaking out against issues on abortion, birth control and homosexuality, the nuns have instead been reminded that they are under the direction of the “Holy See” and Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, has been “assigned by the Vatican to correct the group’s perceived failings” (Learn More from World News NBC). This is not change, this is the suppression of women’s voices which in the twenty-first century reeks of prehistoric rhetoric.

These “radical views” of the LCWR in my opinion actually support the poor, the group of people that Pope Francis is so concerned about. By allowing women the right to make up their own minds on matters of birth control and abortion, women can now plan for parenthood instead of having it foisted upon them. After a great rally through the USA and an overwhelming support by USA citizens for the LCWR, the Pope has instead reaffirmed his inability to create change within the catholic organisation, bowing instead to one of the biggest boys’ clubs in our history.

Catholic - Mother Theresa always willing to accept awards
Catholic – Mother Theresa had very similar views to the new Pope Francis.

Both Pope Francis’ current actions and views, and that of the late Mother Theresa appear to be very aligned.  Rather than helping the poor, they create the poor and needy by refusing to support welfare programs that can help people out of difficult situations.  Pope Francis’ lack of action and laziness to make changes in his own parish in Argentina, even when requested to do so by the very institution he now heads, smacks of self indulgence and preservation.  The world does not need the theatrics of religion.  If religion is to be seen as a force of good in this modern world then it needs action followed with positive results, not whimsical words.



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Enough already of the show and pomp, the theatrics, this disingenuous humbleness and the shallow care for those already living in poverty.  Kissing people’s feet is not going to cure aids. Encouraging the use of condoms however, may have protected a great many from death and helped to slow the spread of this disease.  Until there is positive action that reflects today’s society, like the dissolution of the catholic church, an institution which has done more harm in its history by quelling those that would rise up against its oppression, refusing education while creating poverty and disease; then we will continue to see, charade after charade from the Vatican, and no real change.

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